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The Greatest Man I Never Knew
Song by Reba McEntire, story by One
       A.C. 217__________
______uatre held his umbrella low over his head to ward off the heavy down pour of cold rain. Sally said she'd be here if she wasn't home after school. But out in this rain? He looked around and headed for the gates and over to the their keeper, who seemed quite unthrilled with the rain as it leaked into his small 'office'. He looked over at Quatre, a bit surprised to see anyone out in the down pour.
    "Eh? Can I help ya, sir?"
    "Hopefully. Is there a girl visiting here? Black hair, blue eyes?"
    "High school student?"
    "Yeah... Comes here every day with a flower or two. Sad looking thing she is. You know her?"
    "Yes... I'm here to see her."
    "Heh. Most people come here to see the dead. Funny place to meet up with somebody who's alive. Well, you're welcome to go in and look for her."
    "She comes here every day, right?" Quatre peered beyond the iron gates. The keeper nodded. "Does she look like she's doing all right?"
    "Well, to be perfectly honest, she looks healthy and all, but just between you and me, she looks like she died inside a long time ago or something."
    "... Thank you... " Quatre sighed.

        Meiran stood there in the rain, a flower lying on the grass in front of her. She seem unperturbed by the heavy rains, despite her school uniform and her father's Preventers' jacket being thoroughly soaked. She didn't seem to notice Quatre's arrival, or, if she did, she gave no indication of it. He waited patiently. Meiran seemed lost in her thoughts.

A.C. 213__________
The greatest man I never knew
Lived just down the hall
And every day we said hello
But never touched at all
He was in his paper
I was in my room

______eiran stretched as she came into the kitchen, wearing her pajamas still, hair unbrushed.
    "Morning, Mom."
    "Good morning..." Sally mumbled and sipped her coffee, hair a wreck and eyes droopy.
    "Not really a morning person, are you?" Meiran grinned, then looked over as Wufei came in with the paper and sat down, much more awake than his wife.
    "Hello, Daddy."
    "Hello." Wufei unfolded the paper. Meiran rummaged through the refrigerator and emerged with a bagel, then walked over to the kitchen table and absconded with the comics before Sally could. She headed back towards her room to get ready for school.
    Wufei looked over the top of the paper at his daughter as she left.
    "She looks much better in the mornings than you do."
    "You only think that because she doesn't steal YOUR part of the paper." Sally accused, "And because she looks more like you than me."
    Wufei smiled behind the paper.

How was I to know he thought I hung the moon?

A.C. 210__________
The greatest man I never knew
Came home late every night
He never had too much to say

______he door opened slowly as Wufei came in with his suit case. He was unsuspectingly ambushed by a nine year old Meiran.
    "Welcome home, Daddy!" She hugged Wufei as he closed the front door.
    "... It's after 1... You should be in bed." He mumbled, tired.
    "Mommy said I could stay up and wait for you to get home."
    "I'm home. Go to bed."
    "... All right... Good night, Daddy. I love you..." Meiran slipped upstairs to her room silently, head hung slightly.

Too much was on his mind

       Wufei sat down at the desk in the master bedroom and turned on the desk lamp. I have to get these reports done by Thursday for headquarters. It's amazing how  many 'fires' require 'putting out'. Especially how much power these 'fires' can build up. Hmm.
    Sally opened her eyes and sat up.
    "Wufei? You're home... Why don't you come to bed and get some sleep? You've been on active duty for awhile."
    "Go back to sleep, Sally. I have to get these reports finished. And don't let Meiran stay up so late. She has school. I don't let her stay up when you're gone."
    "I doubt she asks to." Sally laid back down, "Meiran really wanted to see you. She's probably still awake. Why don't you go read her a story or something? You know she likes it better when you read to her. She missed you a lot. At least go kiss her good night, Wufei."
    "I have to get these reports done by Thursday, and technically, it already is Thursday."
    Sally shook her head and went back to sleep.

        Meiran stared up at the ceiling of her room in the dark. She could hear snoring coming from down the hall. I bet Daddy fell asleep at his desk like last time. He only snores when he doesn't go to sleep in bed. Daddy shouldn't stay up so late. Quietly she got up and untucked one of her blankets and tip-toed down the hall into her parents' room. The desk lamp was on, a stack of papers serving as a pillow for Wufei, who was indeed, asleep at the desk. Meiran snuck in quietly, not wanting to wake her mother or father, and carefully draped the blanket over Wufei. She snuck silently back to her room.

I never really knew him
Oh and now it seems so sad
Everything he gave to us took all he had
A.C. 215__________
Then the days turned into years
And the memories to black and white
He grew cold like an old winter wind
Blown' across my life

______eiran sat in her room late at night, text books scattered around her. She ought to have been studying for her high school entrance exams, but she couldn't focus. She also ought to have been sleeping since she had to be up early to go to work in the morning. Sometimes it felt that between school and work, the only free time she had was the time she was supposed to be sleeping. New job should help with paying off my bike... I wish mom was home and not off on duty. At least then I'd have somebody to talk to. Daddy's such a jerk. I can't talk to him about anything without him going off on me about something. Heartless bastard... What the hell did Mom see in him anyways?
    She idly flipped through an old photo album, rather than her text books. She studied the pictures carefully. Pictures of her, her mother, and her father. We all used to be so happy... didn't we? What happened to that, anyways? Why'd things have to change like they have-? Tears began to well up in Meiran's vivid blue eyes. I wish things hadn't turned out this way... Daddy's so cold... and I'm cold because of it... It must be really hard on Mom... But... It won't change... not now. She closed the album, letting her tears fall. Maybe if I had been a son things would be different. Meiran sat alone in her room, holding the album, and cried, her stifled sobs the only sound the fill the midnight silence.

A.C. 216__________
The greatest words I never heard
I guess I'll never hear

______eiran sat silently in the hospital waiting room. She hadn't spoken a word to anyone and any attempts at consolation had been brutally ignored. Her mother, Sally, would be arriving as soon as possible, which would probably be in a day or two.
    "Miss Chang?" The waiting room door opened and the doctor stepped out, his face grim. Meiran studied the expression on his face carefully as she walked over. The others who had come sat in silence, waiting to hear the news.
    "Y-yes...?" The short girl managed to ask.
    "I'm sorry to have to inform you of this... But... Your father died instantly. There was nothing we could do."
    Meiran blinked and stared at the doctor, neatly dressed in white as if he were an angel of death, in disbelief.
    "... He's... dead?" The words managed to escape her throat. They sounded so unfamiliar to her. Hot tears stung her eyes and threatened to spill over as she said those words. Before anyone could speak, Meiran fled the room, door closing disturbingly silently behind her.
    "No... way..." Duo blinked, "Wufei... died?"
    The doctor nodded solemnly. Noin stood up.
    "I'll... call Sally and tell her..."

        Meiran shut her dorm room door and fell to her knees, fighting back the tears that so desperately wanted to fall. He's dead... He's dead... Her thoughts kept echoing, repeating like a broken record in her mind.

        "It's been hours...  Has anybody seen Meiran since she left the waiting room?" Quatre frowned. Noin shook her head.
    "Nobody has seen her since Shino reported seeing her running to her dorm room. I doubt she's left there."
    "... I have a bad feeling. I'll go check on her."

        Meiran couldn't sleep. Her thoughts would not allow her rest. It's all my fault... I said that I didn't care if he died.... and.... he did. Because of me... How could I have said that? I didn't mean it... He'll go to his grave thinking I hate him... He shouldn't have done that for me... He shouldn't have... How will I be able to face anybody-? What about Mom? She sharpened her blue tachi in the dark silence, thinking. Regretting. I was warned... I had plenty of chances... And I blew them all... "Just try and go a bit easier on him. You won't realize how important he actually is to you until he's gone." ... "That's an order! Meiran! Return to your position at once!" ...
    Meiran felt a few tears manage to escape her eyes and hurriedly brushed them away. I don't have any right to cry... I brought this on myself... It should have been me who died... I was so stupid... so stupid! Daddy was stupid too... It was stupid for him to let his life be taken to save mine! Mine... It's worthless compared to his. Meiran carefully examined the edge of her blade. It was flawless. This should do it.

       Quatre knocked faintly on the door. There was no answer. Just hollow silence. He found that silence quite disturbing. He tried to the door knob and discovered it was unlocked. Gently he pushed open the door.
    "Meir-Meiran!!" The sight that greeted him was one he'd hoped wouldn't be. The raven haired girl was holding her sword, poised to perform seppuku*. She looked at him in surprise.
    "Uncle... Quatre?" Meiran blinked for a moment.
    "What are you doing???" Quatre stared at her. Meiran's blue eyes, dimmed by an unspeakable grief, narrowed.
    "As if it isn't obvious!?"
    "Meiran-" The blonde pilot stepped into the room.
    "Stay back!" Meiran cried, "Just go away!" Quatre stopped.
    "Meiran... Calm down. Put your sword away."
    "I said go away!!"
    "I can't do that, Meiran... Now listen... I understand how you must be feeling-"
    "Were the last words you said to your father that you hated him!?!? That you didn't care if he dropped dead!?!?" She held her sharpened sword closer. It glinted in the light that leaked in from the doorway.
    "Meiran! Killing yourself won't help!"
    "The last things I said to him WERE that I hated him! That I didn't care if he dropped dead! And he DIED because of ME!"
    "Meiran! Listen to me!"
    "GO AWAY!! His death is the result of MY actions! My incredibly stupid, horrible actions! I should have died! Not him! He didn't deserve to!"
    "You don't either, Meiran!"
    "Yes, I do! I don't deserve to be alive after saying what I did, and causing what I did. Don't you get that!? I don't have the RIGHT to be alive right now!" Meiran shouted at Quatre, "NOW GET OUT!!"
    "Are you just going to waste his death!? He died because he didn't want you to die, Meiran! Are you really going to waste that by taking your life-? The life, your father, Wufei, DIED for!?"
    "....." Meiran trembled, letting her sword fall to the floor with a deafening clatter. She dropped down to her knees once more and picked up the tachi, sliding it into its matching blue sheath. Meiran finally let the herself cry.
    "Meiran..." Quatre sighed, partly with relief.

A.C. 217__________
The man I thought could never die
S'been dead almost a year
______uatre walked up next to Meiran. She looked over at the blonde man in surprise.
    "... What are you doing here-? How long have you been here?"
    "I figured during this lull in the war with Venus I'd come by and see how you were doing." Quatre studied the girl's face. It was impossible to tell if she'd been crying or if it was just the rain on her face.
    "... I'm... okay, I guess." Meiran sighed and looked down.
    "... Your father was a good pilot and a good person, Meiran. He wouldn't want you to still be sad and let his death hold you back."
Oh he was good at business
But there was business left to do
    "So how'd you find me here?" Meiran weakly changed the subject
    "I talked to your mother before coming. She said it you weren't at home after school you'd be here visiting Wufei's grave. She said you come here every day."
    "... Yeah... I do..." Meiran sighed, "I shouldn't... but..." Meiran sighed, not bothering to finish her sentence.
    "Meiran..." Quatre sighed, "How about we get out of this rain? You're going to get sick out here at this rate."
    "Hmm. If I'm lucky I'll catch something and die. You can't stop me from dying of natural cases, Uncle Quatre." Meiran stated flatly.
    "Meiran!" Quatre looked at her.
    "That was a joke."
    "That was morbid."
    The two stood there in silence for awhile, Meiran staring at the tombstone, Quatre looking at the fresh flower that lay amidst the slowly withering ones that Meiran must have brought on previous days. He broke the rain filled silence.
    "Let him go, Meiran."
    "... I can't..."
    "Why? It's been almost a year since it happened, Meiran."

"He never said he loved me...
Guess he thought I knew..."

*Seppuku - ritual suicide by self-disembowlment on a sword, also called harakiri.

Special thanks to Jeanie for her wonderful artwork of Meiran on the banner. The full, colored version can be found in the art gallery. And remember people, this is Alternate Universe, not the main story.

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